In East Africa we are hard at work coordinating Bible translation projects in 16 languages. Recently we traveled to the southeastern part of our country to work with two of those languages. One of our major tasks was to train reviewers. Reviewers are native speakers who look at the translation work and offer suggestions for ways to improve its clarity and naturalness in their language.
One of the areas we visited is less than 1% Christian. The people here are predominately of another major world religion. The first day of training many people showed up with expectations of being paid. Even after we made it clear that no one would be paid, 25 reviewers returned for the rest of the week. The religious make-up of the group was about 50/50. The people showed how much they love their language as the book of Romans was reviewed and they debated key words.
The most powerful moment of this journey occurred when we distributed Bibles in the trade language to each reviewer. We thanked these wonderful volunteers and one of our co-workers said to them, “We realize that taking these Bibles home could cause some of you problems. So, if you would like to leave your Bible here at the church building, you may do so. You are free to come by the church any time to read it.”
One older man stood up and said, “We know people are making fun of us for coming here every day. But I don’t care. Even if they spit at me or throw dirt in my face, I am taking my Bible home!” About 45 minutes after everyone left, we drove out of town and passed the same older man, still riding his bike. There, strapped to the back of his bike, was his Bible. Praise God for those who willingly take risks in order to have God’s Word in their heart language!